LAKEVILLE, Minnesota (CNN) – John McCain heard boos at a town hall meeting Friday night after the Republican presidential nominee called for the crowd to be more respectful towards rival Barack Obama.
“We would like you to remain a true American hero,” an elderly military veteran told him. “We want you to fight.”
“I will fight, but we will be respectful,” McCain said. “I admire Senator Obama and his accomplishments and I will respect him.”
When the crowd began to boo, McCain told them “No, no. I want everyone to be respectful.”
Watch: McCain tries to calm the crowd
Along with the veteran, four others pleaded with McCain to put up more of a fight against Obama.
One woman who said she had a lot of undecided neighbors said she wanted McCain to “go to the mattresses” on in his third and final debate with Obama on Wednesday.
While McCain said “I got my marching orders” from the supporters, he still seemed to resist their red-meat rhetoric.
One man said he was scared of an Obama presidency.
“My wife and I are expecting our first child, in April 2nd, next year,” the man said. “And frankly, we're scared. We're scared of an Obama presidency.”
McCain told the man he should not fear Obama.
“I want to be president of the United States, and I don't want Obama to be,” he said. “But I have to tell you, I have to tell you, he is a decent person, and a person that you do not have to be scared as President of the United States.”
McCain's response was met with more boos from the crowd.
A McCain campaign senior adviser later denied that there was a change of tone at Friday night's town hall.
“I believe someone called (Obama) an Arab Muslim, which is factually incorrect, and he corrected that person,” said Mark Salter. “We’re going to campaign hard against this guy. I don’t think he pulled any punches on any issues.”
Since last weekend, when Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin first accused Barack Obama of "palling around with a terrorist" - a reference to 1960s radical William Ayers - rowdy crowds have called Obama a liar, terrorist and worse.
Asked about these outbursts, campaign manager Rick Davis said that he didn’t know who those people were, and if they were there as supporters or to disrupt the rallies. He said while people are “incredibly frustrated” that he is “very confident that it has nothing to do with what our candidates are saying or doing on the stump because I think that if you compared the rhetoric of Barack Obama on a daily basis with the rhetoric of John McCain and Sarah Palin, you’ll find that our rhetoric pales in comparison to what Barack Obama says about John McCain every day.”
And while McCain may be trying to tamp down the rhetoric on Obama, he may be walking a fine line, careful to not extinguish the enthusiasm he needs to win.
"Now, I don't mean that has to reduce your ferocity, but that just means it's got to be respectful. Ok?” he told the crowd Friday.